Date: 14th February 2010 at 7:51pm
Written by:

I was invited to the club last week to discuss the finer points of my recent criticisms of the club in my letter to the club. You can read that letter here.

It was an invitation that was unexpected, welcome and one that I was not going to miss. I spent an hour and a half in the company of the chief exec Russ Green, who took time out of his busy schedule (I know this cos his phone didn’t stop ringing!), who ignored the calls to instead talk to me.

It was gesture that was appreciated and there is a lot I learned, and quite a bit that I put forward in regards to the state of the club and what needs to be improved in regards to the views on the terraces.

So much detail I could go into, but would take me all day long. The main things I took away with me though are these;

1. The club is now, more than ever, aware that the fans are disappearing. They are taking on board the criticisms and (hopefully) are starting to take them seriously. Ken Hodcroft is aware of the criticisms and is being advised to break down barriers between the club and fans (the problem stems that it is run as a business – it’s what he does well, of course).

Whether or not the PR between him and the fans does improve or not though depends on him loosening his barriers, and acting on some of the things the fans are telling him.

2. The club is in very good shape off the pitch – we are NOT reliant on what money comes through the gates to keeping the club afloat (while IOR are in charge of course), and are in no immediate danger of doing a Darlo, Portsmouth etc.

3. On the ground purchase – the club are confident it will happen and plans are afoot to redevelop the Vic and surrounding areas. A 3500 seater 2 tier stand is agreed to replace the Rink End and the back of the Rink End, going all the way through to and including the regeneration of Millhouse Leisure Centre (I believe) is in the pipeline – which will be funded by grants (Sport England or something similar?).

It will be community centred that will be a joint venture between club and council – costing both only a fraction of the overall costs. Given the H20 project at the marina fell by the wayside, it could be very much to our benefit.

4. The club believe the developments will see us (hopefully and eventually) become a Championship club, who can hold their own. The ambition is there and the ground purchase is very much the key in this.

5. IOR, it’s not a tax thing, in which they benefit from in owning us. We are one of ten companies (I think) owned by IOR and the reason they continue to own us is simple, they benefit from the prestige of owning an English Football League club. They go all around the world, mention football and drop the fact they own us and it has opened so many doors.

6. KH and IOR, after 11 years, still care deeply about the club and the town, and want to be here for a lot longer yet.

Many things were discussed, some I wouldn’t print which were said in confidence. But some of the stuff I could say, include how Danny Wilson took a hell of a lot of persuading to join us and was never going to stay here (commitment to HUFC very much questioned).

This explains KH’s appointment of Turner, CT was someone who is trusted and has a genuine affection for this club, someone who isn’t likely to embarrass us in the way Scotty for example did.

Overall, those are some of the things put to me, and even though there are many things that need doing. For instance, the PR needs improving and KH needs to lower the barriers between him and the fans – I think him and the club are starting to realise this.

I think they do give a damn, this is certainly a transitional and pivotal point in the club’s history and future (the ground purchase HAS to be made surely, if not what happens then? – that question sadly I forgot to ask). But, I think they are here for the longer haul yet and off the pitch in particular things may be quite good.

It’s the combination of both of course that will make us fans happy.

PR to placate a critical fan? Maybe, but Russ Green came across as genuine enough in his concerns, and I will give him the benefit of the doubt. I think he and KH are listening and taking it on board – as I expressed criticism is a necessary evil to improve things.

Time will tell of course to which way this club goes.

Fingers crossed.


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3 Replies to “A Letter To Ken Hodcroft: The Club’s Response”

  • Cheers for the update. Hopefully they were honest and genuine when they spoke to you. It would be good to think that they did have ambitions and a clear plan to fulfill them. If it was such hard work to get Danny Wilson in then why didn’t they use his ambition alongside the clubs in order to achieve or am I just not getting it?

    I for one hope that they do address the crowd issues as we all know how much of a difference a big crowd can make.

    The Kent Beer Boys are up for the Southend game in March and I was thinking about speaking to the club to have a picture taken on the pitch. There are 8 of us travelling up for the Annual Beano and it would be good if the club could make the other boys who travel with me, feel wanted!!! At least I will be able to get an idea of whether they wish to build relations with the fans.

  • Russ Green has got back to me and offered us a buffet in the Pool’s Lounge, tour of the ground and a visit from the players post match. He has also said that they will take care of the pic’s and forward them on as well as doing a piece in the programme. Far more than I had expected and of course I am buzzing about the offer. He also asked about the possibility of setting up a Kent Supporters Branch, something we have been discussing amongst ourselves for a while.

    Like I say this is a great move from the club and will make the boys feel part of the club in a big way. This is exactly the sort of attitude that will start getting people back to the games.

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